April 28, 2023
Mary Glindon MP, the vice chair of the all-party parliamentary group for vaping, has asked the government to tackle misinformation on vaping to achieve its smokefree ambition.
Delivering a keynote address to a virtual conference on tobacco harm reduction convened by the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) on Tuesday (25 April), she also asked the government to stand up for British interests and its harm reduction strategy at World Health Organisation (WHO).
Noting that the England will miss its smoke-free target by seven years without rapid further action to accelerate the rate of smoking decline by at least 40 per cent, she stressed on the recommendation of the independent review Dr Javed Khan to offer vaping as a substitute for smoking in the government’s harm reduction strategy.
“Tackling misinformation, including addressing the ongoing misperception of the relative harms of e-cigarettes versus combustible tobacco, should be embedded in [the UK government’s] approach if we are to truly be science-based and evidence-led,” she added.
“This needs effective communication strategies from the government; the dissemination of approved and trusted independent health messaging; and the inclusion of the benefits of switching that can be displayed on vape packaging, and on cigarette packaging too.”
Discussing the upcoming WHO conference on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), scheduled to be held in Panama this November, the Labour MP for North Tyneside said, as the single biggest financial contributor to the FCTC, the UK must ensure that decisions are taken openly and transparently.
“The biggest threat to the UK’s world-beating harm reduction strategy comes from the World Health Organisation, whose singular mission on this seems to be focused on actively encouraging countries to ban vaping as part of its tobacco control approach, purposefully flouting the evidence of vaping’s success,” she commented.
She suggested the government to depute a health minister to the conference, which would be a first, and keep the Parliament informed through debates and ministerial statements.
“This government needs to show leadership on the world stage by sending its ministers as part of our delegation to COP in November, and actively take part in leading the conversation, instead of only being a passive observer and financial contributor,” she said.
She also exhorted the vaping industry to urgently grapple with key issues, including preventing youth access, tackling the environmental impact of disposables, and stopping the sale of non-compliant and illegal devices.
Other keynote speakers at the GTNF conference included James Murphy, director of research and science at BAT, Riccardo Polosa, full professor of internal medicine at the University of Catania, and founder of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction, Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats, Derek Yach, global health advocate, and Jeremy Lim, chief executive and co-founder of AMiLi.
Two panels of health and science experts, harm reduction advocates and industry figures also discussed on using the FCTC to accelerate tobacco harm reduction and drawing on behavioral and consumer insights to encourage harm reduction.